Archive for the ‘buenos aires’ Tag

Seeing “lo real maravilloso”

Bandidos and beatos roam from the Andean ridges to the barren sertões in South American literature’s lush, magical history.

The bug got me bit at postgrad and I sprawled from Gabriel Garcia Márquez et al to writing a dissertation on Brazilian cinema of the 1960s.

I’ve not stopped itching for “lo real maravilloso” in the visual arts since – and two new storytellers rode onto my horizon last week.


Cinco minutos tarde by Huanchaco (via We Make Money Not Art).

Peruvian artist Huanchaco explores the chaotic capital Lima through a slobbish anti-hero.

Superchaco takes on the city through an optic of commercial culture, pop and hyperreal comicbook stylings.


Si se puede by Huanchaco.

The results are broadly postmodern but also comment on the local culture of hero-ising in South America – from beatos (mystical leaders) to dictators – pulling the idea inside-out in a way that’s fresh and surprising.


“Turista” by Los Vocalino (via Yatzer).

Ariel and Sebas Vocalino brought back Peruvian masks from their travels for this new series, “Turista”. As they explain:

“In our trip to Peru, we found these masks and without knowing what they were for, we bought many of them. Afterwards, we investigated about them and found out that they were used for carnival, exactly to hide men’s identity, so that they don’t feel ashamed of what they do.”


“Turista” by Los Vocalino.

Yatzer’s interview with the Buenos Aires artists caught me off guard. They talk of the tourist as a lonely figure who connects with his surroundings through his look.

But these masks made me think of technicolour bandidos and the cangaçeiros of Brazilian folklore. Roamers (and tourists, I guess), robbing the rich to give to the poor. With a liberal splashing of guns and debauchery en route.

Funny, magical and never quite real. Hope this work gives you a tingle too.


Taschen’s new history of Latin American design.

– Straight outta Rio: preview of Diplo’s Favela on Blast.

Surrealist financial ads from Leo Burnett, São Paulo.

Clouds vs. Adverts

Round 1 São Paulo, January 2007 (photos by Tony de Marco)

The general public terrorised by aimless, drifting clouds. Where still, stately adverts once filled billboards on highways and street corners, the hoardings now stood bare.

São Paulo banned outdoor advertising. And, joking aside, there weren’t many complaints. (Advertisers aside.)

Sure – some folks lost landmarks that helped them navigate the streets. Outdoor ads can have this auxiliary function when they stay put long enough. But the reduction of visual noise was and has been appreciated.

For the record, here’s a glimpse of what São Paulo was like before:

Round 2 – Tel Aviv, January 2008 (via Treehugger)

The central “Ayalon” highway was the battle ground. And once again, on New Year’s Eve, ads lost.

A 40 year-old law won – ensuring that “fields and hills will not be stained as well with objects foreign to them.” First shroudings were broadcast live on TV (see below).

Round 4 – Buenos Aires, August 2008 (via The Anti-Advertising Agency)

It’s not happened yet, but it will do soon. Original story (for Spanish readers) from Clarín, reported at length by Treehugger and remixed for your leisure here.

Buenos Aires will remove 40,000 billboards that are infracting the city’s code. That amounts to 60% of the city’s outdoor advertising. It’s projected to result in something that looks like this. But it won’t be illustrated. It’ll be so real your camera can taste it.

The billboards were causing a hazard to drivers. With the digital flashes and cavalier cab-driving of the capital, this move could match the pleasure of finding a seat belt.

Better still – the new codes insist that different types of signs are tailored to each district’s visual style. Now that’s personalisation. Localisation, for the literal-minded reader.

Round 5 – Atlanta, sometime in 1951 (photo via)

The lights are turned off. Not even the messaging of the sky to mist this scene.

Just two signs catch my eye: Coca-Cola and Club Perchtree.

Club Perchree has a strapline I wish I’d written: “Dine and Dance”. That’s all you need to know, isn’t it? I’d go if I was hungry and wanted to move my feet after the eat.

And Coca-Cola? Well – it’s Atlanta. Colonised by Coke as a 20th-century sugar plantation. The first brand flag stabbed into the landscape by its native conquerors.

Incidentally, although Butler’s Shop is highly visible it doesn’t interest me. What kind of shop? Don’t know – so I’ll go for a dine and dance instead. Maybe drink a Coke while I’m there.

Points Score

The judges give a unanimous victory to simplicity in the city.

I’m an advertiser who lives in the city. So where does this leave me?

Content, for one. Excited, for two.

Because if you can reduce and organise, as John Maeda would say, you’re off to a start. Proceed with integrity – you’re communicating to other people – and you’ll be heading somewhere.

Not a billboard on your cobblestone highway.

Movimiento Porteño

Last year in Buenos Aires I was hungry-eyed on the streets. There was protest, performance, politicking and an implacable air of tango. Under the stern skies, always life and movement.

Now, after a winter of work by Blu, the walls have started moving (thanks Kaara for the link).

So what the hell’s happening out there?

You can keep a watchful eye on What’s Up Buenos Aires.

And if you need a motion refill, last month Buenos Aires hosted Punto y Raya (snippet below). Not the same ai ai ai! factor as Blu’s animation, but a bucketload of technique.

Back to basics: dots, lines, movement.

All core for VJs. But with HD and new(ish) sites like Vimeo – not to mention BBC’s iPlayer – everyone needs to stay sharp to movimiento.

It’s a language the whole world’s speaking in. You gotta catch its finer inflections.

Update: Blu, the artist who created the first video, is from Bologna. You can read his blog here. More info about the production here. And a well-gathered overview at Drawn!